Are you trying to decide if dental insurance is right for you? While we find that dental insurance is a great choice to protect your teeth long-term, it does come with some drawbacks for some people. There are other options. One popular option is a discount dental plan. Never heard of a discount dental plan? In this article, we discuss the 8 reasons why a discount dental plan is better than dental insurance.
The Different Names Of Discount Dental Plans
Before we begin, discount dental plans have different names. These are all used interchangeably and mean the same thing:
- dental discount plan
- dental savings plan
- discount dental savings plan
- dental discount savings plan
Many plans refer to these in different ways. Moreover, many discount dental plans offer additional benefits as well such as prescription drug coverage, telemedicine (a nice option nowadays), pet coverage, and more.
How A Discount Dental Savings Plan Helps Consumers Versus Dental Insurance
It’s a fact. Many Americans don’t have dental insurance. According to the National Association of Dental Plans, 74 million Americans do not have dental insurance. The reasons are many, but the main reason is the cost is too high versus the benefit derived. Other reasons include not having a dentist in the network.
That 74 million number has decreased in recent years, thanks in part to the ACA; however, those people age 65 and over increased. Why?
Easy. Medicare traditionally does not cover dental services (vision and hearing, too). Some plans may cover cleanings and preventative care. Basic or major services such as fillings and bridges aren’t covered. Seniors aren’t necessarily aware of this. Then, when they need dental care, dental insurance coverage becomes limited.
But, think about what this all means. That means because of the cost, people don’t go to the dentist for much-needed services. That shouldn’t be the case.
How Does Traditional Dental Insurance Work?
Traditional dental insurance operates similarly like health insurance.
You pay a monthly premium. This premium can be $30 to $60 per month for an individual and over $100 for a family.
There can be an underwriting process. Dental insurance usually limits pre-existing conditions. One way they do this is by establishing a long waiting period before services begin.
There are annual benefits on the insurance. With dental insurance, the benefit might be $1,000 or $1,500 cap. This is the limit the carrier will pay in a year towards any services. The benefit of $1,000 to $1,500 is usually the most common. Once your insurance exceeds this amount, you are responsible for the costs. However, some high-benefit dental insurance policies have caps of $5,000 annually. Generally speaking, the higher the benefit limit, the higher your premium.
There is usually a waiting period for basic and major services anywhere from 6 months to 12 months. Usually, this is a flat waiting period although some plans have tiered waiting periods due to the type of service.
There is a limit on the number of services, too. For example, you may be limited to only 2 cleanings per year when 3 could be more beneficial to you.
Insurance usually covers cleanings and x-rays at 100%. You don’t pay any out-of-pocket for preventative services.
There is a deductible, too. The deductible can range from $50 per person or $150 per family, for instance.
After you pay the deductible, the insurance kicks in. Your dentist has a contract price agreed with the carrier.
Example Of Dental Insurance
For example, let’s say you need a cavity filled. You pay $45 per month for your plan’s premium. Your plan’s deductible is $50 per person. For a tooth repair due to a cavity, your dentist’s fee might be $400. Based on your plan’s coinsurance, you might pay $70 to $175 out-of-pocket for the filling.
Let’s say this is the only dental work you had all year, including 2 covered cleanings at 100% coverage. You will have spent $765 at most ($540 total annual premium + $50 deductible + $175 out-of-pocket).
Personally, I like dental insurance. I don’t think it is a waste of money as some agents and people think. (If you think that, you have to read our guide to dental insurance which explains step-by-step how to get your money’s worth out of dental insurance.)
Nevertheless, dental insurance may not be the right choice for you. A better option could be dental discount plans, also known as dental savings plans. We discuss this next.
There Could Be A Better Option: Discount Dental Plans
A better option could be a discount dental plan. What are discount dental plans? They provide you a network of dentists and dental specialists that offer their services at a discount. The discount can be as much as 60% to 70% off the UCR fee. You pay a very low monthly or annual fee. In return, you pay per a fixed fee schedule which the dentist or specialists agree to. It sounds like insurance, but it is not.
Since a discount dental plan is NOT insurance, it might be a better option than dental insurance. We discuss the benefits next.
Think of it as having a membership card for dental care needs. Some people compare the dental discount plan to that of a Costco or BJ membership – for a fee, you receive savings off your dental care needs.
There are some major differences between a discount dental plan and dental insurance, which we outline and elaborate next.
The 8 Reasons When A Discount Dental Plan Is Better Than Dental Insurance
Here are the reasons why a discount dental plan could be better than dental insurance:
(1) You pay a low monthly fee, such as $9 per month or $89 to $120 annually depending on the plan. Contrast this cost with that of dental insurance, which usually costs between $30 and $60 per month for an individual.
(2) There are no deductibles. None. Nada.
(3) There are no limits to the number of services each year. With traditional dental insurance, you are limited to the number of cleanings or procedures. For example, you can get your teeth cleaned 4 times per year if you want!
(4) No annual caps. This is because you pay a fee (and you still pay a fee for insurance, too).
(5) You pay per a fixed fee schedule. The benefit is that you know, beforehand, how much services will cost. You can plan accordingly.
(6) No waiting periods. Your services begin immediately. You have day 1 benefits. You won’t be stuck in a waiting period as with dental insurance.
(7) No underwriting.
(8) Many discount plans offer additional benefits (for an additional cost) such as vision, hearing, telemedicine, prescription drugs, chiropractic care, smoking cessation, etc.
If you would like to view all of the discount dental plans we offer, feel free to check them out: www.dpbrokers.com/170829.dp
Example of Discount Dental Plan
Sounds good, right? In our previous example, how much would the services cost if we used a discount dental plan?
In this case, we go to the dentist twice per year for cleaning and evaluation, one set of bitewings, and the tooth repair for a cavity. The dentist’s fees are $55 for cleanings and evaluations, $48 for bitewing x-rays, and $150 fee for a cavity fill. You could have spent $397. ($89 annual fee + 2 X ($55 for cleaning and evaluation) + $48 for bitewings + $150 for the cavity repair)
The difference is almost $400. Will you save this amount every time? No! But, we do think on the whole, a discount dental plan could provide savings over a traditional dental insurance plan.
Our recommendation: if you select a discount dental plan, create a “bank” for your savings. That way, you will have money available WHEN you do have to pay out-of-pocket. And, you will.
Who Can Use Discount Dental Plans?
The short answer: anyone.
The following individuals could need a discount dental plan:
- employees who are fed up with paying a high monthly premium for your group dental coverage
- self-employed people who need an affordable option for dental care
- Medicare beneficiaries as Medicare DOES NOT cover dental work (except for cleanings, at most)
- people who need a major service done now!
Really, anyone. From young individuals and families to seniors on Medicare, a discount dental plan could provide significant savings.
Here Are The Major Problems With Dental Discount Plans
There are two major drawbacks that we see.
The first is that you have to go to a network dentist in order to generate the savings. Is that problem? If you like your dentist, it could be if he or she doesn’t accept a discount dental plan. Additionally, not many dentists take discount dental plans. That is a big factor.
It’s important that you check the discount dental plan and then contact the dentist’s office. Many of these discount dental plans are notorious for not keeping their network lists up-to-date.
The second is you pay money out-of-pocket, and a lot of it possibly. If you have dental insurance, go to the dentist, purchased a plan well before any waiting periods, you’ll likely save money over the long run. If you plan your dental insurance right, and go to an in-network dentist, the premiums you pay essentially cover your preventative care. Then, you have significant discounts if you need basic or major services.
Now You Know Some Of The Ways A Dental Discount Plan Is Better Than Dental Insurance
We hope you enjoyed the article and now know the benefits of a discount dental plan compared to dental insurance. Is a discount dental plan right for you? It could be. If you are in the need for severe dental work, traditional dental insurance might be a better option – if you have met the waiting period. However, if all you need are cleanings and some low to moderate dental work – a discount dental plan might work.
Where to start? We can help determine if a discount dental plan is right for you. As we mentioned, we also work with nearly all of the major discount dental plans and can select the right one for your needs and budget.
You can look at the available plans, the dentists in your area, and the additional benefits as well. Contact us or fill out the form below to find out more.
As with anything we do, we only work within your needs, budget, and place your interests first.